SANTIAGO, Chile, November 4, 2023.- Dominican Republic beat Mexico 3-1 (31-33, 25-22, 25-18, 25-22) for fifth place at the Men’s Volleyball tournament of the 2023 Santiago Pan American Games at the Arena Parque O’Higgins.
Since 2013 of not competing at the Pan American Games, when they hosted the event, Dominican Republic concluded with 2 wins and 3 losses, for position five. Mexico ended with 1-4 record and position six.
Dominican Republic recovered from falling in a dramatic first set, to prevail over Mexico with a 6-2 margin in aces and scoring 37 points on opponent errors. Mexico had a slim 61-60 advantage in kills, 5-3 in blocks and scored on 27 Dominican errors.
Dominican outside hitter Alexis Cruz scored on a match-high of 25 points, all on kills. Opposite Wilfrido Hernández contributed 18 points (16 kills, 2 aces) for the win, followed by outside hitter Henry López with 10 points on 6 kills and 4 aces.
Opposite Luis Hernandez led Mexico with 20 points on 19 kills and one ace, while outside hitter Mauro Fuentes produced 14 points on 13 kills and one block.
Dominican Republic’s coach, Alexander Gutiérrez, spoke after the victory, “The first thing I have to say is that it’s been 40 years since the Dominican Republic took part in the Pan American Games through qualification. We did play in 2013 in Santo Domingo because we were the host. Within our goals, we knew we could be among the top five, and we are confirming that aspiration we had. This is a group with future, and we need to be calm and have patience because it’s a young group that continues to strive. The fact that we were able to play on par with Argentina shows that we are on the right path, and I hope that in the future, the men’s Dominican Republic volleyball team will be talked about”.
Jorge Azair, coach of Mexico said, “We had many ups and downs, starting half through the season with the withdrawal of our setters. At the last moment, I called up a fourth setter, a young player who did very well, and I congratulate him. In the end, we had some injured players, Axel Rodríguez and Josué López, but I am at ease with the team’s work. They developed well and fought until the end”.